Recently, Gov. Pawlenty signed a renewable energy standard in Minnesota. While proponents claim this standard will protect Minnesota’s environment and resources and help reduce global warming is only rhetoric and not fact. This initiative will cost you the taxpayer millions and produce no positive impact in Minnesota.
The multi-billion-dollar crusade to promote renewable energy for electricity generation has resulted in major economic costs and unintended environmental consequences. Even improved new generation renewable capacity is, on average, at least twice as expensive as new capacity from the most economical fossil-fuel alternative and triple the cost of surplus electricity. Solar power, biomass, hydroelectric power and geothermal projects are economically unviable.
The uncompetitiveness of renewable generation explains the emphasis pro-renewable energy lobbyists put on quota requirements, as well as continued or expanded subsidies. Yet every major renewable energy source has also drawn criticism from leading environmental groups: hydro for river habitat destruction, wind for avian mortality, solar for desert overdevelopment, biomass for air emissions and geothermal for depletion and toxic discharges.
Current state and federal efforts to restructure the electricity industry are being politicized to foist a new round of involuntary commitments on ratepayers and taxpayers for politically favored renewables, particularly wind and solar. Yet new government subsidies for favored renewable technologies are likely to create few environmental benefits; increase electricity-generation overcapacity in most regions of the United States; raise electricity rates; and create new “environmental pressures,” given the extra land and materials (compared with those needed for traditional technologies) it would take to significantly increase the capacity of wind and solar generation.
In the end your Legislators will tell you they voted to protect the environment. What they did not tell you about is the huge taxpayer subsidies and rate consequences you will pay that will have little impact on Minnesota’s natural resources.
2 March 2007
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